About 7 years ago around this time of the year, I was winding down my career in motorcycles. I was working a very bad gig at a Harley dealer in North Central Florida and I knew my time there would be up soon. It was a miserable job in a darwin forsaken hole in the middle of the state. The town was one of the more unfriendly places I have lived and the staff at the store were right up there in terms of unfriendliness. I never felt like I fit in, despite having more knowledge about the brand than most of the people there. I took the job just to get some cash put away and by the following spring I was gone for good.
But at this point in time, we were in the midst of the holiday buying season and the pressure was on the entire staff to sell, sell, sell. By now it was becoming obvious to those of us who had been in the business for many a long year that Harley was on the down side. It’s customer base was aging and not buying up the motorcycles and associated crap like before. Inventory, especially in motorcycles was getting old as many of the models were no longer appealing to the masses.
But, for the owners of the dealerships, especially newer ones like the one I was employed at, had never encountered hard times before. They got in when the getting was good and it was assumed that everyone would be buying $25000 motorcycles along with $400 leather jackets and $40 t-shirts forever. Well, they weren’t, and it was starting to show on the bottom line. With millions of dollars invested in building these huge dealerships, you can imagine the panic going through some of these owners minds. And you could feel it at the dealership where I was working.
Sales were down. Traffic into the store was off. Inventory was gathering dust. There was only one thing for management to do as the end of the year came to a close…Find a scapegoat. And they did.
On the day before xmas, when the busy season was over and done with, management called the motorcycle sales manager into the office. This is a man who had led the sales team with some pretty decent numbers over the years, and they fired him then and there. The day before xmas. A man with a family to support, who probably spent a lot of money on gifts for the kids and all, would get to go home and tell his wife that instead of a xmas bonus, he got canned. (BTW, the rest of us got a gift certificate for a ham instead of cash for a bonus. There were some angry little worker bees that day. Personally, I didn’t care. I knew what was going on. I ordered up a big bbq ham and had it delivered to the local muslim mosque with a note that said, “Happy Holidays from your buddies at the Temple”. Wonder how they liked it?).
So, without so much as an apology, a man’s holiday and possibly his career were ruined that year. Although I had heard he got hired very quickly by a car dealership. He seemed cut out for that sort of thing. I did run into him later and he was bitter, but he kinda thought that was going to happen. It was the timing that bothered him. Which brings us to the gist of this post, finally.
Corporations love to run on schedules. Quarterly reports, end of the month reports, daily reports, it all seems to wrap around schedules and times of the year. As the calendar year ends, the corporate warlords will sit down and look at the projected final tally’s for the balance sheet. And no matter how good the bottom line appears to be, it is never good enough.
There is always the mindset that if the worker bees would produce more, get their act straight, toe the company line, then the bottom line would be more better. And, as shown in the example above, if the bottom line is showing signs of weakness, an example must be made, and heads must roll.
So, as the holiday season winds down, this is the time when the warlords make changes. Strike while the worker bees are distracted with their pitiful holiday plans. Show them who the real bosses are and get their asses back into the company line. Fire somebody. Draw up a list of new rules. “Enjoy your little celebration now peons, because when you come back at the first of the year, the hammer is coming down and we had better see results, or else.”
The firing of said sales manager was one of the more callous things I have witnessed a corporation do to a human being. Even Scrooge was going, “Dude, really?”. As best to my knowledge, the poor schlep who replaced him was doing no better. But corporate warlords rarely let facts get in the way of profits. Give them a legitimate reason for why sales are down, and they will accuse you of making of excuses, being lazy, and not applying your self to your job. It’s always the fault of the worker bees when things don’t measure up in corporate land.
I’ve been out of the corporate world since then. A brief stint at the kayak shop but ever since then, I’ve scratched and clawed my way through life without the need for a corporate warlord bringing his mighty polished boot down on my neck. And while the results may not show in the financial end of my life, I am much more happier than before. But, every once in awhile, some corporation manages to break through the defenses and stick a finger in my ribs. Such was the case the other day when the rent increase was announced here at the marina.
I did manage to track down the manager and talked to her about it. As I suspected, it was not her doing. In fact she was surprised as everyone else about it. She did mention that it had been two years since the last rent hike, and this was still the second cheapest place to keep a boat in Key West, Garrison Bight being cheaper but impossible to get in. It all sounds good on paper and I didn’t argue the point. What pissed me off was the timing. 3 weeks notice and in the middle of the holiday season. Not that I celebrate this madness, but still. This is something that should have been announced back in October. Give people a chance to prepare. Now, those of us who are living in the marina slips will have to shit out an extra $100 in a month when expenses are normally much higher than usual. It was a poorly timed and cold hearted thing to do. But that should not surprise me.
In my ideal life, which I am not quite there yet, had this happened, I would simply pack up at the end of the month, and head out to another adventure. Right now it’s not as likely given the tight economic situation I find myself in. But the end of the month is a long way off yet. Many things could happen. If nothing else, this little reminder serves as a kick in the ass for me to continue my quest to be as free and minimal in my living as I can be. At some point I will be able to ignore things like this and move on without any stress nor issues. I’m just not quite there yet.
Let this serve as warning to any of you out there who think you are fat and happy living in the corporate hive. Enjoy those fat pay checks and benefits. They can be taken away from you very quickly. Much more quickly and easier than you think. Beware the next couple weeks as we wind down the year. Look out for special memos, emails, hastily called meetings, or policy changes. Keep yourself in a position that when the feces hit the wind turbulence device, that you can make a smooth transition from the old life to a new one. Get rid of the debt. Stay as mobile as possible. Refrain from tying yourself down with material goods. It can all come to a crashing halt faster than that fat guy coming down the chimney.
Corporations have no heart. They don’t care about holidays, nor family obligations, nor anything about your pitiful useless existence except for what you can contribute to the bottom line. And if getting the other worker bees to shape up means sending your worthless carcass out into the cold cruel world, let it be so. There is no holiday cheer when it comes to corporate profits.
Get yourself away from the corporate world as soon as you can. Take the initiative next year to learn some new skill or purge yourself of that which is holding you back, and start living your life as it should be, not according to some employee manual. Do not allow the warlords to control that which belongs to you, namely your life. They have no right to it, and only you have the power to deny them said control.
There is a more better life out there that doesn’t depend on the bottom line. Life was not meant to be lived according to a time clock. Take a chance and go see what is outside that cubicle you are stuck in every day. You don’t need a HR rep to tell you when you can take a vacation. Quarterly reports and inventory management are meaningless. Customer satisfaction is just a buzzword for taking more of their money. It’s all an illusion folks. Corporations are made to make a very few a lot of money at the expense of the many. They will do whatever it takes to fill their bottomless pockets with more profits. You are nothing to them. No more important than a box of copier paper nor a desk organizer. When a corporate warlord looks at you they don’t see a human being. They see an expense that must produce income for the company. Fail to produce said income and your ass will be kicked to the curb with the other garbage.
But it works both ways. Make the corporation useless to you. Deny them your contributions be it as a worker bee or a customer. Do not play their little reindeer games. Get as independent as you possibly can from the corporate influences. And maybe come the next holiday season you won’t be wondering what will be in that envelope at the end of the year. A ham coupon, or a pink slip.